At the Beginning of Time
reflects upon times gone by

Steve Gallucci’s latest play examines growing up gay and Italian in Montreal

By Byron Toben

March 16, 2023

Nostalgia always attracts audiences. In playwright Steve Gallucci’s latest effort, At the Beginning of Time, two gay men attend the hospitalization of a third. All three grew up together in an Italian section of Montreal and are now in late middle age, echoing the background of Gallucci (who wrote Mambo Italiano and St-Leonard Chronicles, both successful earlier plays at the Centaur.

The patient, Michael (Richard Jutras), is visited by old schoolmates, Pat (Steven Lawson) and Lou (Michael Miranda). An attending nurse, Nella (Nadia Verrucci) is, by chance, also from the same neighbourhood and knows all three.

Throughout the visit, they reminisce over some days of exhilaration, balanced by feelings of rejection and even fear. Some of their revelations result in, dare I say, bitchiness. Stability is provided by the nurse, who ins and outs to bring pills, take temperature and adjust the bedding. Also, she is the only one of the four who has three costume changes – first in the pale blue hospital gown, second in a magenta pantsuit and finally in a black pantsuit. Whether these changes were in the script or suggested by director Peter Hinton-Davis, I know not.

At the Beginning of Time play

Nor do I know whether the actors were selected by Gallucci or Hinton or by open audition but, in any event, were uniformly fine, exhibiting different nuances despite their common similarities. One highlight was when patient Michael (who claimed both a “husband” and a boyfriend, neither of whom appear in the play) champions Gay Parades, but Lou prefers just to “be who he is” and avoid ostentation.

If there ever is a movie version of this play… I urge the producers to re-assemble this world premiere cast.

Remembrances of things past also included the AIDS crisis, called by some “the gay disease” (since early victims in North America were almost exclusively male, although research worldwide later revealed a gender balance.)

If there ever is a movie version of this play (there was one of Mambo Italiano), I urge the producers to re-assemble this world premiere cast.

Gallucci joins the local playwrights who shot to fame at the Centaur, which promoted David Fennario and Vittorio Rossi with multiple shows as well as local women playwrights like Marianne Ackerman, Alex Haber and Colleen Curran.

At The Beginning Of Time ran from February 21 to March 12.

Images: Andrée Lanthier

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Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.

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